There are few things sweeter than knowing hundreds of people all around you wish nothing but pain and misery upon you. It was with this feeling, lofting me ever higher, that I started to stride around Artist’s Alley.
Artist’s Alley is a hall which is staffed by amateurs – many of whom are high school students trying to make their mark in the Anime / Manga world by selling their own self published books, posters, key chains, bookmarks. It’s rare that I ever buy anything in the alley, but I always seem to spend a great amount of time strolling past all the booths. You can see, in the artist’s eyes, a real hope; you can see a real passion. When you start to slow down and look at a piece, and the sellers start talking to you about it, you know that it’s out of pure love of the form, not just some half thought out sales pitch.
Once I’d completed my rounds I took a final glace – I had been looking for one particular booth. Each year one of my old students sets up shop, and though I’d not been her teacher for the past two years, I still try and find her to support her craft and make sure she hasn’t given up on the dream. I did not see her.
I made my way into the dealers room, away from the simplicity and craft of the amateur pieces. I had entered the maw of all things terrible. Fathers everywhere must have been in tears as their fourteen year old daughters walked out of the house in less than they would ever wear to the beach. One girl laughed, agreeing, as she overheard me make this comment. Though I had brought my camera, I made sure never to take it out of my bag. Nothing good could come from that.
Luckily a number of people have posted their own creative commons images of the event, which I’ve included here for your viewing pleasure. All the understanding, without any of the distressing and troubling justification required to have taken the images myself.
Music was playing, peoples voices were screaming, and then all of a sudden:
"I LOST THE GAME!"
"I lost the game." "Dammit, I lost the game." "Lost the game!" "…THE GAME!"
The game had been lost. And as a tidal wave, threatening to destroy all those in its path, the game continued to be lost from one side of the hall to the other.
What, might you ask, is this game? Well – it is an internet phenomenon that has but one rule. The object of the game is to never think of the game. Any time you think of the game, you have lost the game. Does it sound foolish or ridiculous? No? Then you should have been at A.N. And if you weren’t, you must go next year. Does the game sound stupid and without purpose? Yes? Then you, my friend, have just lost twenty internets.
This is the type of place Anime North is. It’s the type of place where people can come together and bond over nothing. Over things that oh so few will ever understand, yet for those brief three days you know in your heart that you are not alone. Everyone around you is just as messed up as you. They’ve spent the same amount of time on youtube watching the lastest meme. They’ve embraced the same cultural awareness. The too can has cheezburger.
I browsed manga, and idol cds, and capsule toys imported directly from Japan. I also kept my eyes open for a Yuffie Action figure priced at less than twenty dollars (ultimately this was not to be.) I listened to awkward teenagers once more try to start awkward relationships with such classic openers as, "so… do you like music, and – umm – stuff?" This is an exact quote, and what makes it perfect is that it’s just what you’d expect.
A greasy haired fourteen year old approached a girl of similar age, midriff bare, and clothes distressingly limited. In a normal environment you would expect this boy to learn a terrible lesson in pain and heartache, best taught through the tinny clang of country music. But here? Here the girl turned to him and nodded. They walked off together, and started talking. I think I saw them sleeping on a couch together a day later. This is the type of place A.N. is.
And that just makes the separation anxiety that much worse when the dream finally ends.
But that was still days away. Now it was time for me to go to some panels, watch some anime, and try to get some sleep.
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